University Chapel Use Guidelines
Use of the University Chapel is subject to all University policies and guidelines, including but not limited to the Facilities Use Policy, as well as the following guidelines and restrictions:
- Events may not potentially damage the building or its contents, cause the blocking of exits, entrances and throughways, create any hazardous conditions (e.g., fire hazard), or compromise the site's safety or function as a university venue and museum.
- Permission to use the University Chapel does not imply endorsement, sponsorship, or support by the University of the views, opinions, programs, or activities of the speakers, presenters, or organizers.
- Funerals and Memorial Services: The University Chapel auditorium is an unconsecrated and non-denominational space. Funeral Services are restricted to current or retired members of the University faculty and staff, as well as the current student body, who have died within the past year.
Memorial services are restricted to the immediate University family, listed above, as well as alumni who have been living in the immediate vicinity (Lexington and Rockbridge County), who have died within the past year.
- Weddings: The University Chapel auditorium is available for wedding ceremonies for W&L students listed in the University Directory for the current year, current and retired faculty and staff listed in the University Directory, alumni listed in the W&L Alumni Directory, university-related board members and officers emeriti, and the children of any of these individuals. As a courtesy and when scheduling permits, the University Chapel may also host Virginia Military Institute students (when Jackson Memorial Hall is unavailable), Lexington City, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County residents not otherwise affiliated with the University, and out-of-region weddings. Fees will apply.
The Events and Conference Coordinator will be happy to help you with questions about planning your wedding. The coordinator may be reached at 540-458-8931.
Weddings are scheduled subject to availability year-round on Saturdays and Sundays, although other days may be considered. If you would like to reserve the Chapel for a wedding, please fill out the Wedding Reservation Form on our website.
A two-and-a-half-hour period is reserved for the wedding date and rehearsals are scheduled in one-hour increments on Friday and Saturday evenings prior to the wedding. Please contact the Events and Coordinator for additional information such as capacity. Access to the balcony may be limited to university staff, musicians, photographers, and videographers.
- Available Areas: Activities in the University Chapel are confined to the Auditorium on the main floor. For activities taking place after hours or on weekends, there is no access to The Chapel Galleries, Lee's office, Lee family crypt or the bathrooms. Bathrooms are only available in designated buildings along the Colonnade. In addition, there are no dressing facilities available in the University Chapel.
- Equipment: The University Chapel Auditorium stage is furnished with an antique lectern, dating to the construction of the Chapel, and a piano. The piano must remain in its permanent location and nothing can be placed on the lectern other than notes for a speaker.
The Chapel has equipment such as a projection system, handheld and lavalier microphones, a large lectern with a stationary microphone, W&L armchairs for stage seating, and lighting options. Requests to use any of these items may be made on the reservation form.
No furniture, fixtures, fittings, or equipment belonging to the University Chapel & Galleries may be moved, and no outside equipment, furniture, decorations, signs, or other props may not be brought into the Chapel with the exception of flowers for weddings, funerals, and memorial services, and objects used in the “activities expressly excluded from the definition of Major Event” as defined in the University Facilities Use Policy.
- Scheduling: Requests must be submitted online using an Internal Group or Sponsored Group Reservation Form. Requests made by an Internal Group or Sponsored Group to use University Chapel for Major Events must be made at least four (4) business weeks prior to the date of the Major Event. Arrangements must be made through the Visitor Services Manager at the Museums in order to schedule a W&L Security Officer to open and close the Chapel Auditorium. The Visitor Services Manager, Events and Conference Coordinator, or a member of the University staff will stay with the building at all times until the event is over and Security returns to secure the building. The requesting organization is responsible for ensuring compliance with University and Chapel policies and guidelines. If the evening or weekend activity is not a university function, there will be a required additional fee for a Security officer to be present (see Fees).
Use of the auditorium is restricted during operating hours for visitor access to the main floor.
The Chapel remains open to the public up to 15 minutes before the scheduled event, unless otherwise indicated, and reopens to the public during normal operating hours immediately after the event ends. The Chapel Auditorium will not close all day, except for special university events or weather events.
University activities are a priority and scheduling in the University Chapel is subject to many changes during the year. We will do our best to inform you of any University, Museum or community event that may coincide with your event date or place unusual demands upon the Chapel's appearance or accessibility. Though unlikely, unusual circumstances may disrupt reservations made months or even years in advance.
EVENT ORGANIZERS, PLEASE NOTE: If you wish to use the Chapel auditorium as a backup venue for an event scheduled elsewhere on campus, you must make arrangements to reserve the Chapel prior to the event. The Visitor Services Manager will review the Chapel's availability and notify Security of the possibility of an event. Advance arrangements should be made to open the Chapel at the faculty or staff member's request. Without this prior reservation, Security will not open the Chapel under any circumstances.
- Liability/Insurance: For Internal Group Events, the individual signing the Reservation Request Form, and related/affiliated groups, shall be responsible for all matters related to the event. A representative is REQUIRED to be present at the event. That individual and related/affiliated groups are responsible for leaving the premises in good condition and cleaning up the Auditorium.
For Sponsored Group Events, in consideration of being able to use University facilities, the external organization to which the permit is issued understands and agrees by virtue of using the chapel that the University is not liable for any loss, injury, or direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential, exemplary, or punitive damages, including, but not limited to, any loss of use, loss of profits, loss of data, loss of goodwill, cost of procurement of substitute services, or any other direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential, exemplary or punitive damages, howsoever caused, and on any theory of liability, whether for breach of contract, tort (including but not limited to negligence and strict liability), or otherwise resulting from the use of, or the inability to use, the chapel. These limitations apply whether or not the University has been advised of the possibility of such damages, injury or loss. Use of the Chapel is at the external organization’s sole risk.
By virtue of using the Chapel, the external organization agrees to defend, indemnify and hold harmless the University and its affiliates, officers, directors, employees, agents, and trustees from and against any and all liability, losses, claims, demands, disputes, damages or costs of any kind, including, without limitation, reasonable attorneys' fees and costs of litigation, resulting from or in any way connected with the use of the chapel, or the external group’s violation of any rights of another party.
The organization to which the permit is issued must obtain all appropriate and commercially reasonable insurances including but not limited to liability insurance with at least one million ($1,000,000) of coverage, and upon request provide a certificate of liability and damage insurance with at least one million dollars ($1,000,000) of coverage naming Washington and Lee University as an additional insured.
- Clean-Up: Users of the facility have the responsibility to ensure that the space is left in the condition in which it was found prior to the scheduled use.
Clean-up should take place immediately after the scheduled event. Make certain that someone is assigned to be responsible for this duty. If the building is left in disorder by any group, W&L or other, a clean-up fee will be charged to the group responsible for the event. Full charges will be assessed for any damages to the Chapel or its furnishings requiring repair or replacement.
- Size of Groups / Occupancy Restrictions: Please contact the Events and Coordinator for information about capacity. Access to the balcony may be limited to university staff, musicians, and photographers, and/ videographers.
The Chapel can hold no more than 525 persons. If the anticipated audience exceeds capacity restrictions, the organizing department or group should consider providing an overflow alternative if one is deemed necessary. Aisles, stairs, entrances, exits, and throughways may not be blocked. Once the auditorium reaches capacity, entrance into the building should be regulated by a University Security officer or designated person in order to maintain safety.
When planning large events such events First Year Orientation, Parents Weekend, and Alumni Reunion, the University Chapel & Galleries will work with Public Safety to assist with crowd control at the Chapel. Additionally, the department or organization must provide at least two ushers to help the audience find available seats.
For any event where a large audience is expected, it is highly recommended that free tickets, not to exceed 500, be distributed prior to the event, in order to ensure equitable seating opportunities and to control the crowd in a rational and fair manner.
- No food and drink (including bottles of water) may be brought into or consumed at any time within the Chapel Auditorium, with the exception of water provided for speakers, choir members, or University staff working the event.
- Smoking or any open flame is NOT permitted, in any circumstances, in any area of the building.
- Cell phones must be placed on vibrate upon entering the Chapel.
- No tape of any kind may be used on any surface in the Auditorium.
- No flags may be displayed in the Chapel other than the University flags, which include the American flag, the Virginia State flag, the flag of the Society of the Cincinnati, and the flag of the University. These flags may only be moved by University Chapel personnel.
- No admission fee may be taken up at the door of the University Chapel and no sales or solicitation may be made during the event inside the Chapel Auditorium.
- Permission to use the Chapel Auditorium does not include use of the surrounding University grounds, including the parking lot.
A Museums staff member is available to answer questions regarding Chapel reservations Tuesday - Saturday. Because of other duties, an appointment should be scheduled in advance by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-458-8768.